Friday, October 2, 2009

This week's major college football matchups

Here's one of my favorite pieces of trivia: Between 1985 and 1987, Oklahoma only lost three football games and all three were to the University of Miami. In 1985, OU was ranked No. 3 in the country and Miami was unranked when the two teams met in Norman. In 1986 and 1987, the No. 1 Sooners lost to the No. 2 Hurricanes in Miami.

Tomorrow night these two teams meet again to determine which will remain in contention for this year's national championship. It's the top game of the weekend. Both have one loss on their record. OU's was the most shocking, a season-opening defeat at the ends of BYU in a game that saw defending Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford leave the game with a shoulder injury. He hasn't played since and won't play tomorrow. No matter. His replacement, Landry Jones, has looked spectacular, albeit against the likes of Idaho and Tulsa.

Miami began the season as a spoiler, first defeating 18th ranked Florida State and then Mo. 14 Georgia Tech. Last week, however, Virginia Tech blew out the Hurricanes 31-7 with a miserly defense that suffocated Hurricane quarterback Jacory Harris.

As good as Tech's defense is, OU's is better and that's the reason I'm picking the Sooners to win by 8, even though the game is being played in Miami.

Southern California at California. Here is how the Pac-10 has shaken out the last couple of years. USC loses a conference game it probably shouldn't have lost and then goes on to dominate the rest of the way, winding up representing the conference one more time in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans have already lost that game they shouldn't have, against Washington a couple of weeks ago. So they should cruise now, right? Perhaps, but I'm not so sure that awful weight room injury to running back Stafon Johnson doesn't prove to be a serious distraction.

Two weeks ago, California's running back Jahvid Best was considered the major Heisman competition for Florida's Tim Tebow. Then Oregon held him to 55 yards on 16 carries last week in a game the Ducks dominated 42-3 and Best's Heisman hopes ended. I'm not sure this USC team is as good as those previous teams that dominated the conference following a loss, but I do think they are probably five points better than Cal.

Louisiana State at Georgia. So far this season, five teams ranked among the Top 5 at one time or another lost. LSU seems to be the perfect candidate to be No. 6. Why? Most people think it will be because L.S.U is looking past this game to next week's matchup with Florida. C'mon. How can any SEC team look past Georgia?

I think the reason is more that L.S.U. may be the most overranked team in the country right now. The Bengals did beat South Carolina, but they looked terribly pedestrian last week against Mississippi State when they rushed for all of 30 yards total and scored on an interception return and a punt return. And Georgia has a much better defense than Mississippi State's as well as a better offense, built around receiver A.G. Green (who is averaging 107 yards a game to lead the league) and steadily improving quarterback Joe Cox. This game is going to be close all the way, but I'm picking the Bulldogs by 1.

Alabama by 11 over Kentucky
Arkansas by 1 over Texas A&M
Cincinnati by 28 over Miami, Ohio
Florida State by 1 over Boston College
Georgia Tech by 5 over Mississippi State
Michigan State by 4 over Michigan
Mississippi by 3 over Vanderbilt
North Carolina by 15 over Virgina
Notre Dame by 10 over Washington
Ohio State by 17 over Indiana
Penn by 9 over Dartmouth
Penn State by 15 over Illinois
South Florida by 15 over Syracuse
Stanford by 3 over U.C.L.A.
Tennessee by 4 over Auburn
Virginia Tech by 24 over Duke
Wisconsin by 5 over Minnesota

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